What you should know about police shootings and brutality in the United States

1. American police shoot and kill far more people than their peers in other countries

2. There are huge racial disparities in how US police use force

3. Cities across the country have been riddled with accusations of police abuse

4. There’s no good data on how many people police kill each year

5. Police can use deadly force if they merely perceive a threat

6. Cops are almost never prosecuted and convicted for use of force

7. Killings of police officers on duty are near record lows

8. The federal government has helped the militarization of police

9. Reforms have focused on community policing and accountability — but that may not be enough

Another one of those useful VOX card stacks. Data compiled, easy to understand and use for debate and discussion – a delightful addition to the digital world of politics.

Analyzing 130 studies of gun control finds that it actually works

What do we really know about the research on whether gun restrictions help reduce gun deaths? Even for PhDs, this is a difficult question. There’s been a mountain of research on the subject, but these dozens of studies conducted over many years and in many different countries reach a broad and sometimes contradictory range of conclusions. It’s hard to know what it really tells us, taken together, about whether gun laws can reduce gun violence.

A just-released study, published in the February issue of Epidemiologic Reviews, seeks to resolve this problem. It systematically reviewed the evidence from around the world on gun laws and gun violence, looking to see if the best studies come to similar conclusions. It is the first such study to look at the international research in this way.

The authors are careful to note that their findings do not conclusively prove that gun restrictions reduce gun deaths. However, they did find a compelling trend whereby new restrictions on gun purchasing and ownership tended to be followed by a decline in gun deaths.

Santaella-Tenorio’s study…Magdalena Cerdá and Sandro Galea, as well as…Andrés Villaveces…examined roughly 130 studies that had been conducted in 10 different countries. Each of those 130 studies had looked at some specific change in gun laws and its effect on homicide and/or suicide rates. Most of those 130 studies looked at law changes in the developed world, such as the US, Australia, and Austria. A few looked at gun laws in developing countries, specifically Brazil and South Africa.

Massive assembly of computational analysis. The stuff I’d love to work on. Catch up to my wife. 🙂

VOX does their usual smooth job of presenting the core conclusions, edited and polished for interested readers. A worthwhile read.

Exxon Mobil’s insane sophistry arguing against action on climate change

Exxon Mobil has devised a bizarre new argument to wriggle away from its shareholders’ demands: Humanity can’t fix the problem we created, so we shouldn’t even try. Yep — as it turns out, Exxon Mobil’s shareholders care a lot more about climate change than the company itself does.

The planet’s largest publicly traded oil and gas company challenged a resolution about climate change regulations from its own shareholders on Friday, arguing that it’s a practical improbability that the emissions-restricting goals set forth by the recent climate accord in Paris will actually be achieved. Therefore, Exxon Mobil says, it shouldn’t have to address the impact that the regulations would have on its business…

The resolution, originally brought by the New York State Comptroller and four other Exxon Mobil shareholders earlier this week, had asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to force the company to address how its business would be impacted by climate mitigation efforts. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, whose office manages a state pension fund that has a large stake in the oil and gas giant, told Reuters that investors “need to know how Exxon Mobil’s bottom line will be impacted by the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and what the company plans to do about it.”

For decades, other investors have been filing resolutions asking Exxon Mobil to take action on climate change, with most of them falling on deaf ears…

With Exxon Mobil blatantly ignoring climate science on one hand and giving up on emissions regulations on the other, the company seems to have flipped from willful ignorance to purposeful complacency. We’re not sure which one is worse, but either way: Exxon Mobil is clearly a nightmare for the planet.

When criminals own the cops, crime becomes a perfectly normal way of life. And business.

Bad science + campaign of lies = profits for pharma giant Abbott in India

When findings from a survey of thyroid disorders in India hit the news in 2013, the headlines were not subtle. “India’s cities in the grip of thyroid disease as new study reveals one in ten suffer from disorders,” blared one. “Time to get your thyroid checked,” another exhorted.

But the survey was bogus

Instead of straightforward population sampling, it relied on tests done at free clinics paid for by drugmaker Abbott India. Because such events attract disproportionate numbers of sick people in India, where many lack access to affordable healthcare, it was a recipe for inflated prevalences…

Ethics may not have been a top priority when the survey was done. Initiated and funded by Abbott India, a subsidiary of U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories, it was part of the company’s award-winning “Think Thyroid Think Life” disease-awareness campaign, which critics say is using shaky science and misleading health information to boost sales.

The campaign dates back more than a decade, but picked up steam in the late 2000s. Since then, an impressive array of Bollywood brand ambassadors, high-profile doctors, TV spots, media reports, roadshows, and web quizzes have helped create awareness of thyroid disorders in India…

❝ “They have made doctors think thyroid, they have made patients think thyroid,” said Shashank Joshi, MD, DM, president of The Endocrine Society of India and a paid speaker for Abbott.

Meanwhile, sales of the company’s flagship product Thyronorm, one of many branded versions of generic levothyroxine on the Indian market, increased seven-fold. It is now among the 10 top-selling drugs in India, grossing more than $41.5 million in 2015…

Although that may seem like a small amount by American standards, it is enough to buy a year-round supply of Thyronorm for some 6 million people in India. That’s more than the total expected number of clinically hypothyroid individuals in India, if prevalence is the same as in the U.S., where it is estimated at 0.3% of the population – actual prevalence in India is unknown regardless of what Abbott says….

Everyone agrees overt, symptomatic hypothyroidism should be treated. But there is no good evidence to support treating the much more common subclinical hypothyroidism, in which only thyroid stimulating hormone is abnormal. What’s more, screening for thyroid dysfunction has not been evaluated in randomized trials, and guidelines disagree on the question. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force last year found insufficient evidence to make a recommendation.

That opens the door to medicating a lot of people who will not get any benefit from levothyroxine, yet will still be exposed to the side effects…

Best quote in the article: “They are spinning the numbers, there is no question about it…These people are very smart, they know how to create a disease.”